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Hollywood in HavanaUS Cinema and Revolutionary Nationalism in Cuba before 1959$
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Megan Feeney

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226593555

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226593722.001.0001

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Rebel Idealism: Hollywood in Havana during the Batistato, 1952–1958

Rebel Idealism: Hollywood in Havana during the Batistato, 1952–1958

(p.193) 6 Rebel Idealism: Hollywood in Havana during the Batistato, 1952–1958
Hollywood in Havana

Megan Feeney

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores film reception and US-Cuban film business relations in Havana during Batista’s military dictatorship (1952–58), in which the Cuban appropriation of pre-1959 Hollywood toward the construction and mobilization of revolutionary nationalism reached its culmination. By the 1950s, Cubans’ tendencies to identify with Hollywood’s freedom-fighting heroes and to appropriate its critiques of the American Way into the Cuban context were well-established. Thus, it is not surprising that a new generation of Cuban youth was inspired to rebel, at least in part, by the Hollywood movies on which they had been raised, nor that many Cubans interpreted their insurrection through a Hollywood lens: the story of righteous freedom-fighters versus a tyrannical villain. Developments in Havana’s film business community-which suffered from all the political unrest and other challenges to Hollywood’s business model—offer further insight into popular support for the anti-Batista insurrection and growing anti-imperialist sentiment. Havana intellectuals reinvigorated their use of film criticism as a tool to denounce both a homegrown strongman and US imperialism, not least of all by appropriating the social critiques offered by leftist Hollywood filmmakers. This chapter pays special attention to Elia Kazan and his films, Viva Zapata!, On the Waterfront, and A Face in the Crowd.

Keywords:   Cuban dictator, rebels, insurrection, masculinity, Viva Zapata!, Elia Kazan, film reception, film business, film criticism, cine-club

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